...mamma in her kerchief and I in my cap had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap... ~Clement Clarke Moore
Some of you might recognize that line from the poem ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. As children we were focused, of course, on the visit from St. Nick with his bottomless bag of toys. But, with requests for indulgence to those whose cultures or climates involve neither Christmas nor winter, I’d like to reflect on this overlooked line about what the grownups were doing.
In the northern hemisphere, winter coincides with the calendar new year, a time when many of us gear up with resolutions and renewed resolve. Health clubs see a spike in membership, diet programs do a brisk business, closets and junk drawers are emptied and cleaned, and we go forth into the new year with determination to accomplish more, do better, be better.
An odd choice of timing when everything in nature is quieting down and moving inside, literally and figuratively. The harvest is over and stored away to sustain us through the cold months. A perfect time to settle not only our bodies, but also our brains, as the poem says. Winter invites us to enter into the dark mystery, to sink into the stillness of our spirit.
And to wait. Winter energy is conserved rather than expended. Life is suspended in the frozen night. Yet the first day of winter is also winter solstice, when the light secretly begins to return. Underneath the icy surface, the latent stored energy gestates and readies itself to burst forth when spring returns.
Many of us have busy lives. Our work and our harvest are not seasonal but year round. Yet just like St. Nick’s bag of toys, winter’s wisdom has something for us all. An appreciation of timing, perhaps, and patience. Permission to rest our bodies and our minds, protecting the energy preparing to manifest in its season. Listening for the stillness to whisper its secrets in the silence. And trusting that the darkness is not the end but rather the beginning of something wonderful.
Winter is when the earth is pregnant. ~Dave